Reps Kim and Carey reintroduce bipartisan legislation to increase support for Emergency Medical Services
WASHINGTON D.C. – Last week, Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03) and Congressman Mike Carey (OH-15) re-introduced the bipartisan Supporting Our First Responders Act to help emergency medical services (EMS) agencies with hiring and retention, training reimbursements, facility upgrades, and more.
“EMS responders are first on the scene and must be willing to risk their own well-being to put others’ needs first. Sadly too many of them do not have the equipment they need on the job to keep themselves and others safe,” said Congressman Kim. “In New Jersey and across the country, we have EMS workers on the front lines working without the level of support they need. That’s why I am proud to re-introduce this bipartisan legislation to strengthen our support for first responders and ensure they have the resources, staffing, training, equipment, as well as the mental healthcare support they need and deserve.”
New Jersey is one of 37 states that does not classify EMS alone as an essential service. That means local governments are not required to provide these services on their own. Unlike fire fighting and police, many EMS units do not have wide access to federal and state funding.
To rectify that, the Supporting Our First Responders Act would:
- Authorize $50 million per year for five years to establish a grant program under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which would allow public, private, and nonprofit EMS agencies that provide medical services, along with State and local governments to apply for grants to:
- Hire, recruit, and retain trained medical personnel
- Support the well-being of EMS personnel
- Provide reimbursement for required training
- Construct and modify existing facilities
- Upgrade and purchase new equipment, medication, and vehicles
- Establish or support existing community paramedicine or mobile integrated healthcare initiatives.
- Authorize $5 million in technical assistance to assist EMS agencies with navigating grant processes.
- Permanently extend Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Emergency Triage, Treatment, and Travel Model which would allow EMS agencies to be reimbursed for treating patients on site and providing transport to an alternative destination.
- CMS reported that these extensions would save taxpayers more than $560 million each year.
- Require the Secretary of HHS to provide Congress a report detailing the challenges, disparities, and inadequacies in providing federal and private reimbursement for EMS and recommend action.
- Require the Secretary of HHS to provide Congress a report detailing the challenges specific to rural EMS departments and to nonaffiliated EMS departments, then develop action plans to address those challenges through grants and other administrative action.
- Require the Secretary of HHS to provide Congress a report detailing the feasibility of establishing a lead Federal office to implement recommendations, improve advocacy, and collect data for EMS personnel.
A fact sheet of the bill can be found here.
“From inner city Columbus out to the more rural areas of Ohio’s 15th Congressional District, we all rely on EMS providers in cases of emergency. We owe these heroes more investment in their training, well-being, and equipment to continue to serve our communities,” said Rep. Carey (OH-15). “I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan Supporting Our First Responders Act with Congressman Kim to provide our EMS agencies with the ability to improve the lives of EMTs and the people they help every day.”
“I want to thank Congressman Kim for continuing to listen to the concerns of our local EMS agencies and reintroducing the Supporting Our First Responders Act. With each passing month, it becomes more difficult for many EMS agencies to meet the increased demand in calls,” said Jamie Wood, Chief of Lumberton, New Jersey EMS and Vice President of the Burlington County EMS Chiefs Association. “When someone calls for help, there shouldn’t be any doubt that help is on the way. By reintroducing this bill, which provides the opportunity for greater funding to go directly to EMS agencies, Congressman Kim is allowing us to do the job we were trained to do and save countless lives of his constituents and throughout the nation.”
The Supporting Our First Responders Act, which was originally introduced in 2022, has been endorsed by Bound Tree Medical, the International Association of EMS Chiefs, and National Association of Counties.
“Our country’s emergency medical services (EMS) system is facing a crisis that threatens the ability to provide crucial emergency healthcare services in many communities,” said Rob Meriweather, President of Bound Tree Medical. “Bound Tree Medical, a leading nationwide distributor of emergency medical products to EMS, supports the establishment of this federal grant program to give our nation’s EMS infrastructure the support it deserves to address this crisis.”
A letter of support from the International Association of EMS Chiefs can be found here.
“Local fire departments and emergency medical services agencies, often supported by county governments, are first on the scene responding to emergency calls involving injury or illness,” said National Association of Counties Executive Director Matthew Chase. “These agencies are critical to the health and well-being of our residents, and we strive to overcome the workforce and funding challenges we encounter, particularly in rural areas. The Supporting Our First Responders Act would provide critical funding for the recruitment, retention and training of our first responders. Counties thank Representatives Kim and Carey for introducing this bipartisan legislation to support local governments and our communities.”
Congressman Kim is a member of the bipartisan EMS Caucus and the Fire Caucus. He is also the Ranking Member on the Military Personnel Subcommittee, and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Select Committee on China. More information about Congressman Kim’s accessibility, his work serving New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District, and information on newsletters and his monthly town halls can be found on his website by clicking here.